(St Helena Online has been off-line for a few days. This is one of the stories that were missed).
The number of seats for St Helena passengers on the RAF’s Ascension flights has been doubled – but it remains lower that it was when the allocation was slashed before Christmas.
Now up to 20 island passengers can travel on flights between Wideawake airfield and RAF Brize Norton in the UK – compared with the previous 26.
The cut had been cited as a cause of a drop in tourist numbers on St Helena, because it made it harder for people to reach the island more quickly than by travelling via Cape Town.
The new allocation takes effect from 1 January 2013 – but extra seats could be available in time for Christmas.
A press release from St Helena Government said: “The Ministry of Defence will continue to work closely with the Ascension Island Travel Agency to ensure that there is capacity to meet periods of higher demand for seats – including for Christmas 2012.
“This welcome development comes after discussions between the St Helena and Ascension Governments, the Ministry of Defence and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.
“It underscores the commitment to using the airbridge to support economic development in the South Atlantic in addition to its key role of supplying the UK’s military presence in the Falkland Islands.”
Julian Morris, chief executive of Enterprise St Helena, said: “The additional seats will improve confidence in the route amongst Saints and tourists, which in turn will assist our work to develop tourism to St Helena and Ascension Island.”